Much depends on how you listen.
If you’ve ever been convinced that Madonna was singing “last night I dreamt of some bagels,” you know the difference between hearing words and hearing the real words.
And if you’ve ever loudly sung “last night I dreamt of some bagels” in public, you know this difference makes a difference.
We can hear many things and miss the truth.
When it comes to semi-feral kittens, many ears have heard “semi-feral”…and stopped there. Like a letter mangled by the mailman or an email eaten by the ether, only half the message gets through. In this case, the irresistible, unsinkable kittenness of every kitten is lost.
That half-hearing hangs onto the hesitation and drops out the hope. A semi-feral kitten will need more “work” than a ready-to-go kitten. A semi-feral kitten may hide from you for a day or a week or more. A semi-feral kitten may hiss and spit and even bite you. A semi-feral kitten may not wish to drape himself about your neck like a scarf. Ever.
But there’s another way to sing this song.
Tabby’s Place has recently been blessed with ears that hear deep things.
A certain beautiful-souled volunteer — let’s call her BSV — pounced on the project of loving semi-feral kittens. Day after week after month, she lavished her love on whiskers that wobbled, tiny voices that hissed, little pumpkin faces that couldn’t be touched…and…then…they…could.
There weren’t milestones so much as millimeterstones, but BSV sang them all at the top of her lungs. Smile all splendorous, she’d pop around the corner to share the song: Diego played with me today, and Salsa let me hold her. Emilio is coming along well — he didn’t try to scratch once! And Tutti is going to be ready in no time — she’s a love. They’re all loves.
She heard. She loved. She sang this deeper truth into being with every hearing.
And she wasn’t alone.
Another lovely, loving volunteer — let’s call her BraveMama — heard the song. After BSV had poured gallons of love into our nervous kittens, BraveMama made an offer none but a fool could refuse: May I foster Emilio and Salsa?
BraveMama did not hear “Emilio the biter” or “Salsa the terrified,” though neither title would be entirely wrong. BraveMama did not hear “two semi-feral kittens.” BraveMama heard “two semi-feral kittens.”
And a kitten is priceless. A kitten has value and sparkle and splendor beyond what we can comprehend. A kitten is given to us by the One who made her and upholds her and rejoices over her with singing. A kitten is a miracle, hiding or hugging or holding court at the Hague.
BraveMama heard the kittens’ song…and loved them…and fostered them…and adopted them. Just as they are.
It seems the truer song has gone viral. Another family got the kittens’ melody in their heads — let’s call them The Stellar Family — and adopted Tutti and Diego.
They didn’t adopt them after they lost their “feral-ness.” They didn’t adopt them once they were “perfect.”
They adopted them as they are, for who they are, in celebration of all they are.
It all makes me want to listen a little slower, a little deeper, and a little truer. There’s no hope for any of us if the deep song, the Just As I Am song, isn’t truly heard.
But it is.
One last cautionary tale: As a small, strange child, I really liked the song It Never Rains in Southern California. I didn’t know why the sad singer-man was underloved and underfed. I did know it was pretty wild that, apparently, in this part of our great land, it rained manticores.
In the unlikely event that you are not versed in medieval geekery:
Manticore [man-ti-kawr, -kohr], noun
1. a legendary monster with a man’s head, a lion’s body, and the tail of a dragon or, sometimes, a scorpion
Sure, this seemed slightly out-of-place in a song about not hitting the big-time as an actor — but who could question this earnest lyric?
It never rains in California, but girl, don’t they warn ya
It pours manticores
Under those conditions, I’d want to get the heck on out of LA, too.
Of course, at this point, connoisseurs of seventies soft rock are violently shaking their fingers at the screen. NO, foolish girl. The lyric is, “it pours, man, it pours.” And, of course, it is. For that matter, Madonna dreamed of San Pedro — and, while we’re at it, Some Nights fun. does not “stay up splashing in my bathtub.”*
With that ringing in our ears, may we hear the true songs around us, human and feline and otherwise.
And watch out for those superstorms of manticores.**
*Although, they might want to consider doing that rather than “cashing in my bad luck.” Sounds like a better idea to me.
**The only weather worse than a Sharknado.